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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Daily news & Analysis

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Senate Committee Explores New Payment Rates, Taxes to Fund Reform

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, May 19, 2009

Financing healthcare reform measures, the third and final policy options paper, was issued by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday. The full committee will hold a closed-door "walk through" on Wednesday on the option proposals as it moves toward drawing up a health reform bill by June. The committee had earlier released papers on expanding coverage and transforming the healthcare delivery system. A number of options need to be examined now to slow down rapid increases in healthcare costs "that take up more and more of the budget for American families and businesses," said Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) in a statement accompanying the paper.

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Employee Healthcare Costs Rise, But We're Not at Tipping Point Yet

By: Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, May 18, 2009

The total 2009 medical cost for a typical American family of four in an employer-sponsored PPO will increase by more than 7% this year and those same families will pay $500 more for healthcare than they did in 2005, according to the fifth annual Milliman Medical Index that was released Monday.

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HIPAA, Meaningful Use on Busy HIT Docket

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, May 19, 2009

The tight deadlines the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology must meet under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health provisions of the stimulus law (aka the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) are spelled out in a new eight-page operating plan. Over the next several weeks, the national coordinator, David Blumenthal, MD, will hold hearings and meetings "to develop and vet plans and procedures." The plan notes that the office of the national coordinator will act "swiftly but thoughtfully" to fulfill its legislative obligations.

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Homeless Discharge Shelter Saves Hospitals $3 Million in Year

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 18, 2009

In the wake of charges from the Los Angeles city attorney that at least three hospitals were discharging homeless patients by unlawfully "dumping" them to downtown's Skid Row, a new recuperative care program has provided one solution, albeit a small one.

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Senate Mulls 'Lifestyle Tax' on Soft Drinks to Pay for Healthcare Reform

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 19, 2009

Imposing a "lifestyle tax" on sugary, fattening soft drinks and alcohol are among the revenue-generating ideas under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee as a way to pay for healthcare reform. "Reforming the system will likely require an upfront investment, but I'm confident it will pay dividends in the future for our health, our economic competitiveness, and our federal budget," says Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-MT.

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Much of the Stimulus Money for Native American Care Will Replace Two Facilities

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 18, 2009

About half of the $500 million in federal stimulus funds released to improve Native American health care last week will be used to replace two hospitals.

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Looming Reform Kills Mood for Healthcare Deals

By: Michelle Ponte, for HealthLeaders Media, May 18, 2009

While healthcare lending and deal making is down due to the economy, it seems that growing talk of healthcare reform is making the market even more skittish, say a group of healthcare lenders and investors.

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HIT Must Reduce Physicians' Hassles With Insurers

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 18, 2009

If government wants physicians to embrace HIT, then government must demonstrate that this new technology will reduce insurance hassles.

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